Nationally, PTA has conditional support for these independent schools, and the state association has twice backed the concept in the past year. But ultimately the board decided this initiative didn’t meet its criteria for local oversight.
“This wasn’t a decision about the value of charter schools. This was a decision about whether this initiative met our criteria,” said Washington State PTA president Novella Fraser. The decision was made during a board meeting preceding the association’s annual Leadership Conference, being held this weekend at Western Washington University.
Fostering strong community connections to schools is a core principle of PTA. The board decided the ballot measure did not have sufficient protection in place to ensure maximum citizen involvement and oversight in local schools. (bold mine)
I applaud the WSPTA for reading the initiative and making the determination that it did NOT meet its national criteria (which I pointed out for both the bill in the Legislature AND this initiative). That criteria is very clear about parent involvement/engagement.
I-1240 has the word "parent" in it 16 times and only once is it about parent engagement and that is to note it as one possible item in a charter proposal.
The potential of bypassing local oversight conflicted with a long-held position of the association: local tax dollars should be managed by locally elected school boards. Also troublesome for the association is that there are no requirements for parents to serve on charter school boards. Advocating for strong partnerships with shared decision making at every level – classroom, building, district, state and national – is a cornerstone of the association.
There are a couple of interesting things in the press release:
- they are going to actively opposed I-1185 about reinstating a two-thirds legislative majority to raise taxes and fees. They are silent on what they will or will not do on I-1240. I suspect they will not campaign against it (but I think they should and there is nothing stopping the Seattle Council PTSA nor individual units).
- They also voted to advance more than a dozen proposals for delegates to the Legislative convention to consider including "closing opportunity gaps, advancing education reforms, and increasing revenue for schools and children's programs." I'd have to read up to see what they are calling "education reforms."
It seems that the WSPTA has come to the conclusion that I hope the majority of voters will come to - whether you like the idea of charters, this is NOT the initiative. It is vague and poorly-written and will hurt districts and taxpayers and not advance better academic outcomes.